I had a self-tape audition this week, which is pretty unusual for me. I know they’re becoming more and more popular so I would expect to see more and more of them. And here are some things I noticed…and learned…
When I have an in-person audition in a casting office, I don’t go until I’m ready. In other words, I make sure that I have prepared my audition until these things have happened:
- I feel incredibly comfortable with the material (I understand it and know it inside and out).
- I’m incredibly clear on what I want to do in the office to show my best work (I’ve thought through how my work will show in an office setting).
- I feel lit up, excited and can’t wait to have the opportunity to show someone else what I’ve prepared…someone else who also cares about this project and is invested.
But something different happens when I get a self-tape audition…
I often rush to get in front of the camera.
Again, when I go into an office, I prepare until I’m prepared – and no less. So why not do that for a self-tape audition?
I think the answer is a few different things…
First of all, I know I get as many takes as I want, so why not just start? I’ve heard actors say, “Let’s just start filming. Maybe we’ll get lucky,” but I haven’t actually witnessed a whole lot of luck in filming under-prepared material. I’ve noticed some “happy accidents” that will become a welcome addition to fully prepared material, but nothing that would equal a complete and compelling piece of work that you would be proud of.
Second, when I get a self-tape audition, my attention moves from a process to a final product. In other words, it feels like when I audition in a casting office, I’m there to experience my process of auditioning with a casting professional and we will most likely tweak the audition until the casting director feels like it’s what they want to put forward to producers. Or, if the producers are present, they will often jump in and work with you until they understand what you would bring to the role and how you work. It feels like a process.
But a self-tape is a product. No one is looking for a process in a self-tape, no one wants to direct you or see how you got to a final take, they just want the product. And they want the “right” product for what they are doing. Ah yes…isn’t that word great…”Right.”
When you try to get something “right,” your focus must completely change. It’s no longer about the work, it’s about pleasing someone. And having the main focus of pleasing someone is significantly less interesting, less inspiring and way less fun than entering into work that lights you up.
So my advice?
- Do the work before you tape. Enjoy the work. Know that the work is what matters. Know that how you feel about your work is what matters.
- If you don’t like ‘how long’ the work takes, then get faster at the work. There is no shortcut, but you can get faster. Train, focus, strategically practice.
- Don’t limit the number of takes you need. Don’t get frustrated when you need a lot of takes. Set yourself up for success by giving yourself time. Sometimes you will need a lot of takes and sometimes you won’t.
- If you don’t like ‘how many takes’ you need, then train and work until the work becomes easier for you.
Knowing that you are putting your best work forward is what will matter in the long run.
Be good. Make good choices. Do good work.
Until next time…